Project management not as simple as it sounds

March 25, 2012
| By Pete Daly |
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Project management shouldn’t be left to chance; there is an established process for managing projects, according to the Project Management Institute — and there are now more than 400 certified project management professionals in the western half of Michigan.

According to a member of PMI, projects are how organizations create new products, open new markets and make themselves more efficient — so better project management is a boost to the economy.

According to its website, PMI is one of the world’s largest not-for-profit membership associations for the project management profession, with more than 600,000 members and credential holders in more than 185 countries. The organization’s worldwide advocacy for project management is supported by its globally recognized standards and credentials, extensive research program and professional development opportunities.

The International Organization for Standardization — also known as the ISO organization, located in Switzerland — is well known to Michigan manufacturers and the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards for both business and the public sector. ISO has reviewed the “Project Management Book of Knowledge” — a detailed book that contains “way more information than you would ever want in your entire life about project management,” according to Ted Kallman, and has “designated it as the standard for project management certification worldwide.”

Kallman, a certified project management professional, said most major companies and business organizations in West Michigan have certified PMPs on staff.

“Spectrum has 70-plus members. Steelcase has, I think, 20 or 30. GE Aviation has another 50 or 60,” said Kallman, who has a consulting firm called Unified Vision Group.

Project management as a discipline or profession is still relatively new, said Kallman. “Not that people haven’t been doing projects, but as a codified profession, it’s relatively new. So when people talk about project management, they assume ‘Well, you just do projects. We know how to do that.’ And they don’t realize that there is a standard for project management.”

According to information provided by PMI, Nokia did an internal study of PMI “credentialed” professional project managers within its company, compared to non-credentialed. The PMI members delivered their projects on time, within their budgets and within the project’s scope, and they saved the company about $10 million over the course of the study. Nokia now requires PMI-certified professionals.

Kallman said that to become a certified professional through PMI is a fairly intensive process. “You have to have a minimum of 4,500 hours of direct project experience, plus a college degree. If you don’t have a college degree, you need, I think, 7,500 hours. And that has to be certified before you can even sit for the exam.”

According to Kallman, about 40 percent of the people taking the exam the first time do not pass, “so it is not just a wave of a wand. It’s a very involved exam.”

Kallman’s firm has done “boot camp training” in PMP certification. Unified Vision Group has a project methodology it applies to senior-level management structure.

The West Michigan chapter of PMI entails the entire western half of the Lower Peninsula and part of the western half of the Upper Peninsula.

“In that entire area is about 660 members, of which, I think, 453 are certified PMP professionals,” he said. “Others are in the process of obtaining PMP certification.”

There is also a junior designation called CAPM — certified associates of project management — which is mainly for college students who do not have the required hours of work experience to qualify for PMP.

Kallman said the heaviest concentration of West Michigan PMI members is in the region including Grand Rapids, Holland and Muskegon.

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